New MRI Safety Standards Published By ASHE

The American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) has just published a monograph for those planning MRI installations and the design professionals (architects, engineers and equipment planners) who help them.

ASHE MRI Safety Monograph

The new monograph, entitled ‘Designing and Engineering MRI Safety’, is available from ASHE and details are available from their website.

The document describes planning principles for MRI suites, including cryogen safety, access controls, 4-zone screening, and, yes, ferromagnetic detection.

Ferromagnetic Detection: Recommended for use following the clinical and physical screening by the VA, ACR and recently the Joint Commission, ferromagnetic detection screening should be coordinated into the suite design to provide screening for all persons – patients visitors and staff – preparing to enter the MRI scanner room. For optimal performance, ferromagnetic detection systems should be used both for individual screening (i.e. narrow-aperture portal or hand-held patient screeners) and also as pass-through doorway width portals sited prior to the access opening into the scanner room.

— Designing and Engineering MRI Safety

The new ASHE monograph lends its voice to the large – and growing – chorus of professional bodies calling for ferromagnetic pre-screening of all MRI patients.

The two most oft-cited objections to using ferromagnetic detection are (1) that the technology is too new and unproven and that (2) it is too expensive.

To the first, that the technology is unproven, I think that the list of professional and accreditation bodies that have called for ferromagnetic detection pre-screening (the ACR, the Joint Commission, the Veterans Administration, and now, the American Society for Healthcare Engineers), plus the long list of inpatient and outpatient providers that currently use the technology offer a poigniant (and powerful) rebuke to the idea that this is all too new.

To the second, that ferromagnetic detection is somehow too expensive denies the obvious fact that MRI accidents are profoundly more expensive than well-designed protections. Most ferromagnetic detection manufacturers offer risk-weighted cost tables to help MRI providers identify, in dollars, just what their risks of an accident are. The VA just published a report which states that the average MRI projectile accident in the VA Healthcare system costs over $40,000! When you consider that the Mednovus hand-held Target Scanner™ presently costs only $3,000, roughly equivalent to only three hours of operational magnet technical revenue, the notion that ferromagnetic detection is ‘too expensive’ just doesn’t hold water.

It is our hope that the new ASHE monograph on MRI suite safety will help share the elemental planning principles of MRI safety with everyone involved in planning projects, and will ultimately help to improve the safety of MRI for patients and staff alike.

Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director
Mednovus, Inc.